In 1987, there was a trifecta of dueling Game Shows
that tried to cross the genre with the growing fad of home shopping: namely, ABC
's Bargain Hunters
(a Merrill Heatter
production which host Peter Tomarken reportedly really
hated) and the syndicated The Home Shopping Game
(which tied in with HSN, the Ur Example
of the shopping channel). While neither show was all that great, both had some redeeming elements.
...Oh, wait, that third game. Until pictures were posted for all to see in December 2012, references to this legendary yet obscure syndicated entry were limited to assorted posts on a popular forum
which — in an almost Creepypasta-like
quality — described it as the worst
game show ever made (a post from 2005
, a topic from 2006
, and another topic from 2011
). That show was the legendary Shopper's Casino
. And unfortunately, it's real.
In fact, several traders have had an episode (a single episode, as it happens) since at least May 1998.
But on to the game itself, because that's why you're here — basically, the entire show consisted of two contestants playing casino games, specifically Blackjack, Roulette, and Chuck-a-Luck. Win a round, win a prize and points relative to its price note
. Blackjack was relatively normal, Roulette only offered Black, White, Odd, and Even as bets, and Chuck-a-Luck is a dice-based game you've probably never heard of before this. If the Bonus Bell went off, that round was played for double. The winner after six rounds (two of each game) got to spin a "Big Wheel" for a bonus prize.
...And that's it. Much like those other shows, each prize was also offered to home viewers, and a lot of the time between games (or even during them in some cases) was spent plugging the prizes and reminding viewers to have their credit cards ready and call now. Even worse, the advertisements shown during commercial breaks were all direct-response ads! (...but more on that later.)
Okay, so what were the issues with Shopper's Casino
? A lot.
Poor camera angles, the laziest/blandest set in the history of the genre, nonsensical betting choices for Chuck-a-Luck ("12 or Over" and "9 and Under"), the aforementioned direct-response ads had better production values than the show itself, and...well, here's a full explanation with pictures, if you dare
...or the episode itself
, if you've got a Bile Fascination
The fact that its existence was treated like an Urban Legend
should be proof enough that it didn't last long.
- Bonus Round: The "Big Wheel", which wasn't big. Or much of a wheel.
- Bonus Space: The bonus bell.
- Home Participation Sweepstakes: There seemed to be one, although the person supposedly playing over the phone sounded like she was in the studio.
- The Announcer: Don Helvey.
- Game Show Host: Jeff Maxwell and Debbie Maffett.
- Lady Luck: Cynthia "Cindy" Brooke, who later appeared in the May 2, 1989 issue of Weekly World News, which name-dropped the show. Yeah.
- Studio Audience: Yes, really. They were probably bored to death, though...
- And "Dirty Harry" (Tom Bronson), the guy who ran the games. He's the best part, mainly because he looks and acts like most casinos feel about giving people money — i.e., not at all.
- Undesirable Prize: Somewhat; would a Coca-Cola anniversary pin set really be that desirable?
This series provides examples of:
- Luck-Based Mission: It's a casino. An indescribably crappy casino, but still a casino. Barely.
- Product Placement: About 65% of the show is dedicated to hawking the prizes and reminding viewers to call.
- All of the advertisements use the same style of on-screen graphics as the show itself, which makes you wonder whether they were produced by the show's staff. But wait, there's more! The last advertisement in the circulating episode promotes a work-at-home scheme from a company called Legacy International, which is also credited as a production company in the credits alongside a company called Knight Productions. The Legacy ad, "be a contestant" spiel, and the insulation-matting ad give the same post office box in Culver City as their addresses; judging by these two facts alone, this must have been an Infomercial dressed as a game show, or some type of time-brokered program.
- Spell My Name With An ': The title card gives the name as "Shoppers Casino".